Why Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett's Championship Days Are Over
Which is a problem.
Though the duo have already helped lead Boston to a title—and nearly a second one—their days as championship pillars are officially over.
Garnett is 36, while Pierce is 35. Both have proven to be more than capable at holding down their respective positions and remain nice complementary pieces to the on-court stylings of Rajon Rondo.
But the Celtics need more than complementary pieces; they need championship foundations—they need superstars. Garnett and Pierce are no longer superstars.
Yes, Pierce continues to score, but he's shooting a career worst 38.3 percent from the field. His 19.3 points per contest—though respectable—put him on pace to score the least amount of points since his rookie season.
As for Garnett, he continues to be effective as well—to an extent. He is currently averaging 15.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, posting a PER of 17.95. That said, even he has struggled with his accuracy from the field; his 48.4 percent shooting is his lowest since the 2006-07 crusade. But that was when he was taking nearly 18 shots a night; this year he's averaging just 13.
No, I'm not going to sit here and pretend that Garnett and Pierce's production—especially at their ages—isn't impressive. Yet I can't in good conscience sit here and tell you they're star-worthy, either. Because they aren't.
And that's the problem. Boston re-shaped its roster around two pillars that cannot be expected to carry a championship team. Not anymore.
Rondo has become the face of the franchise, a leader whose crafty court vision has helped Garnett and Pierce age gracefully. He can only do so much as the only dominant player on this team, though.
As impressive as Garnett and Pierce can sometimes be, they're no longer the dominant forces they once were. The natural progression of age has made sure of it.
Do you still want Pierce taking the last shot? Yes. Is Garnett still the fuel that drives the Celtics' defense? Again, yes.
Are these two veterans formidable enough to compete with the likes of younger, more explosive teams on a daily basis? No, and we shouldn't be surprised by that either.
We saw shades of this reality, saw signs of what was to come only last season. Boston started off slowly, much like it has this year, only to pick it up right before the All-Star break.
That team went on to defy the odds and push the Miami Heat to the brink in the Eastern Conference Finals. Still, even then, the Celtics were given two chances to put the series away and ultimately came up short. And that was with Garnett having a dominant postseason.
So what does that say about a Boston team that is still built upon the same infrastructure? The cosmetic makeup of this team may be different, but the core ingredients—namely Garnett and Pierce—remain the same.
Those same ingredients, those same vital components fell short last season, so why will this season be any different when they're one year older, one year deeper into their organic regression?
It won't be. This season isn't going to end in a second ring for Garnett and Pierce, or Rondo for that matter.
Nearly two decades into his NBA tenure, Garnett is still the team's leading rebounder with just 8.1 in 36.9 minutes per contest. Pierce is still the leading scorer of a team where no one averages 20 points a game.
Which means not much has changed since the 2007-08 campaign that saw Boston win an NBA championship. While some take that as a sign of encouragement, it's actually part of the problem.
Not only is this an indication that Garnett and Pierce have peaked, but this isn't the same league anymore—the Celtics are not the only super team. Truth be told, they're not even a super team; they can't be. Not with only one star in his prime, an inconsistent bench, and, most notably, two deteriorating cornerstones.
Championships aren't won that way anymore. They're not captured by teams like the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks or the 2007-08 Celtics. Not as long as the Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, among others, stand in the way.
How far will the Celtics travel in the playoffs this year?
Meaning yes, Garnett and Pierce's days as a championship foundation are over; they're more like complements to the star or stars that should be running the show.
They're officially assuming a role they're no longer fit to play.
By no means is this through a fault of their own, though. The natural progression of age is the enemy of title contention.
And it's the inevitable pitfall Garnett, Pierce and, therefore, the rest of the Celtics will face and be unable to overcome this spring.
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